Welcome to another exciting episode of This Week in Defunct Games! Every Tuesday join Cyril as he reviews the best (and worst) retro releases for the week.
We have a violent episode for you this week. Up first we're looking at Double Dragon II: The Revenge (NES), the rough and tough sequel to one of the most influential beat-em-ups of all time. If gang violence isn't your thing, then maybe pig killing is. This week MonkeyPaw Games is bringing you Tomba! for the PlayStation. This PSone Classic is one of the best platformers of all time. Find out why below!
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Double Dragon II: The Revenge (Aksys)
[ Release: June 21 | Price: 500 Points | Console: NES | Year: 1990 ]
What Is It?
Between Mega Man X2, Metal Slug 3 and Monster World IV, this year is all about uploading long-overdue sequels to the Virtual Console. This time around it's Double Dragon II: The Revenge, follow-up to the popular NES brawler (uploaded to the Virtual Console in 2008). Fans of button mashing and non-stop street fighting are in for a treat this with surprisingly solid action game.
Double Dragon II tells the story of Billy and Jimmy, two brothers on an adventure to avenge the senseless murder of Maria. They do this the only way they know how, by taking to the streets and beating everybody up. Unlike the first game, Double Dragon II has a better sense of setting. Not only will you fight in the traditional back alley, but players will also fight in an airplane. The game has you climbing up ladders, walking on 2D paths and even performing platforming challenges.
This sequel offers the one feature gamers had been demanding since playing the original Double Dragon -- two-player support! Double Dragon II: The Revenge offers a number of multiplayer modes, as well as difficulties that actually change the length of the game. Even with limited moves and a short campaign, this 2D brawler proves that love is worth fighting for.
Does It Still Hold Up?
Double Dragon II comes with a few controversial design decisions. The big one involves the button layout, which changes depending on which direction the character is standing. Turn one way and the "A" button will punch, turn around and the same button will perform a kick. Beyond the controls, this sequel offers a number of impressive cinemas and at least two fantastic set pieces. The gameplay is solid, except for when the game veers into platformer territory. As a rule 2D platformers shouldn't be in the business of judging precise jumping challenges.
Is It Worth The Money?
Double Dragon II is more than a sequel; it's a genuinely good action game with a solid storyline and a lot of fun street fighting. The controls take a little getting used to, but after a while you can see what the developers were trying to do. My only real complaint is the ludicrous ending, which inexplicably introduces supernatural elements into the franchise. If you can get past that you'll find yet another fun beat-em-up on the Virtual Console.
Tomba! (MonkeyPaw Games)
[ Release: June 19 | Price: $10 | Console: PlayStation | Year: 1998 ]
What Is It?
Think 2D platforming is nothing more than running and jumping? Then you clearly haven't played Tomba! (their emphasis, not mine). Originally released in 1998, Tomba is the story of a wild pink-haired, fanged boy. He's off on an adventure to find his grandfather's bracelet, which is somewhere out in the large, open world. Along the way he'll run into dozens of friendly characters, each trying to complete a task or solve a puzzle. This sets our hero off on an adventure far beyond what he imagined, complete with some real world ramifications if he fails.
Tomba is more of an adventure game than your typical Mario or Sonic game, forcing players to take on missions and complete challenges in order to earn money and access to new parts of the map. The world isn't level-driven, instead opting for one giant area of intersecting paths. In that sense the game is a lot like Metroid and Castlevania, even though the pacing feels completely different. There are 130 missions to complete, which means that you'll be spending a lot of time looking for hidden items, saving helpless animals and battling boss creatures. It's a rewarding experience that is unlike any other platformer on the market.
Does It Still Hold Up?
The gameplay is simple, but not without some getting used to. Tomba doesn't have a typical jump, instead he leaps forward as if he's ready to grab onto to whatever he catches and rip it to shreds. As a result, this jumping mechanic can make some of the platforming challenges more frustrating than they should be. Thankfully the rest of the combat is solid, usually taking the backseat to the more interesting exploration elements.
The graphics are fantastic; creating a 2.5D perspective that still looks good today. While not all of the visuals hold up (there are a lot of pixelated sprites lying around), Tomba has the kind of style that makes it timeless. The writing is also good, offering players a lot of fun characters to interact with. And best of all, the actual adventure is worth going on. Each new area brings its own set of challenges, and you won't want to stop until you've completed all 130 missions.
Is It Worth The Money?
Having just come off of playing the Monster World games on both the Wii and the Xbox 360, it's interesting to see how many of the same beats Tomba hits. Heck, the little guy even looks a little bit like Wonder Boy. Thankfully this PSone Classic introduces enough new elements to the genre to make Tomba feel like its own game. There are a few elements that went on to influence other Sony platformers, including LittleBigPlanet. Tomba is more of a workout than your typical platformer, but at the end you're rewarded with one of the PlayStation's best 2D action games. Tomba is definitely worth downloading.